[Paleopsych] AP: Study: Women's Orgasms Relieve Stress, Anxiety

Premise Checker checker at panix.com
Wed Jun 22 19:38:37 UTC 2005

Study: Women's Orgasms Relieve Stress, Anxiety
Researchers Couldn't Get Reliable Results From Men
POSTED: 5:52 pm EDT June 20, 2005
[Thanks to Jim for this.]

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- New research indicates parts of the brain that
govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an
orgasm but remain active if she is faking.

In the first study to map brain function during orgasm, scientists
from the Netherlands also found that as a woman climaxes, an area of
the brain governing emotional control is largely deactivated.

"The fact that there is no deactivation in faked orgasms means a
basic part of a real orgasm is letting go. Women can imitate orgasm
quite well, as we know, but there is nothing really happening in the
brain," said neuroscientist Gert Holstege, presenting his findings
Monday to the annual meeting of the European Society of Human
Reproduction and Embryology.

In the study, Holstege and his colleagues at Groningen University
recruited 11 men, 13 women and their partners.

The volunteers were injected with a dye that shows changes in brain
function on a scan. For men, the scanner tracked activity at rest,
during erection, during manual stimulation by their partner and
during ejaculation brought on by the partner's hand.

For women, the scanner measured brain activity at rest, while they
faked an orgasm, while their partners stimulated their clitoris and
while they experienced orgasm.

Holstege said he had trouble getting reliable results from the study
on men because the scanner needs activities lasting at least two
minutes and the men's climaxes didn't last that long. However, the
scans did show activation of reward centers in the brain for men, but
not for women.

Holstege said his results on women were more clear.

When women faked orgasm, the cortex, the part of the brain governing
conscious action, lit up. It was not activated during a genuine

Even the body movements made during a real orgasm were unconscious,
Holstege said.

The most striking results were seen in the parts of the brain that
shut down, or deactivated. Deactivation was visible in the amygdala,
a part of the brain thought to be involved in the neurobiology of
fear and anxiety.

"During orgasm, there was strong, enormous deactivation in the brain.
During fake orgasm, there was no deactivation of the brain at all.
None," Holstege said.

Shutting down the brain during orgasm may ensure that obstacles such
as fear and stress did not get in the way, Holstege proposed.
"Deactivation of these very important parts of the brain might be the
most important necessity for having an orgasm," he said.

Donald Pfaff, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Rockefeller
University in New York, said the interpretations were reasonable. "It
makes poetic sense," said Pfaff, who was not connected with the

More information about the paleopsych mailing list